Jun 15, 2009
Friday morning we were the third horse in the ring for dressage in a dreary mix of fog and rain and mud. The footing was very wet courtesy of the rain we’d had all night, and there was actually standing water in the competition ring. Finian stoically splashed on and managed a really good test despite it all. He scored a 44.4 which was good enough for first place ahead of a good field of horses. The rest of the day was spent course walking and re-walking and walking again.
Saturday morning I arrived at the barn early and my eye was immediately drawn to Finn’s left front fetlock. It was a little bit swollen in the tendon area but he was not sore on it. After a bit of walking he still had the lump so we decided to have Dr. Christiana Ober ultrasound it to look for any injuries. She didn’t see anything wrong with the tendon or ligament fibers, but agreed that there was some worrisome swelling in the tendon sheath, probably resulting from tweaking it in the mud the day before. While there was nothing to say that he shouldn’t run cross country, there was also nothing to say that he wasn’t showing the precursors of an injury, or that he wouldn’t have a greater risk of an injury on course. I talked it over for a while with Bea and considered the swelling and the added factor of the strain and fatigue of the 10 minute course. We decided this was a risk that did not need to be taken. I made the heartbreaking call to withdraw Finian from the competition and sit this one out. I know there is always a risk of injury every time we run, but this was playing with odds not in our favor.
As could have been expected, by Sunday morning the leg looked tight and cold and if I didn’t know better, I would think I imagined the whole thing. As the chaos of the event eases away, the weight of the decision has caught up with me, along with all the doubt and second guessing. I don’t know if we overreacted or if we protected the career of a future star. Could we have won a CCI3*, as me still a young rider and him an 8 year old, or would he have broken down and never evented again? I do know that with what information we had, it was the decision that felt right in my gut and that was in the interest of the horse.
Coatesville, PA – We are back in Pennsylvania now, getting everything in order to drive home this weekend. We’ll get the leg re-scanned by my vets at Steinbeck Country Equine Clinic when we get home, and then, should everything look good, set our sights towards the CIC3* World Cup Qualifier next month in Montana. It’s time to look to the future and all the possibilities it holds, because that in itself is a prize. I have no regrets.